Of Gods and Men

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 December, 2010, 12:00am

Based on the real-life abduction and murder of seven Christian monks in Algeria in 1996, Of Gods and Men is one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful French films of the year. It was awarded the Jury Prize at Cannes, and has now drawn in more than three million viewers at home.

More than just generating tangible dividends, the film also reignited the discussion about religion and faith, and also the more thorny issue of whether anyone else, beyond the fundamentalist guerillas who killed the monks, should be held responsible for the tragedy. New documents have revealed the Algerian government might have botched attempts to save the monks.

But Of Gods and Men is riveting because of much more than that. Mirroring the monks' spartan, hermit-like lives, the film unfurls its story slowly and wordlessly. And I dare anyone not to feel unmoved by two of its most heartrending scenes: when the monks hold on to each other and resolutely sing hymns while a military helicopter whirls menacingly outside their church, and their silent contemplation of their impending fate as they sit at the dinner table while Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake plays on a battered tape machine. Saturday, 9.30pm, City Hall.